What start ups can learn from Shakespeare
The business world is going crazy for something artists have known for centuries.
The "Lean startup" is a term coined and trade marked by Eric Ries, a business writer and entrepreneur well known in tech circles. It's an idea that's hot. The book is on the New York Times bestseller list and he's been brought into big business (like Google) and big government (the US State Department) who are keen to hear his approach to innovation and product development.
He advocates the creation of rapid prototypes that are tested online. Businesses then use customer feedback to develop them quickly.
This is big in London's tech city. A developer might produce an app, test how it's being used, and constantly revise and hone it. That's why Adobe products are constantly updating.
An old idea with new technology
But how new is this? If you've seen live music, an artists career develop or watched a film makers idea become a storyboard, a short, then a feature, you've seen this a version of this.
Established artists, like Richard Thompson, look to try out their songs on the audience, learn what they like and dislike, and improve them. Singer Camille O’Sullivan is open about it:
“Testing is happening from last night onwards. It's a horrible way to do it as a performer because you want your audience to feel "that was a great show". You always have a certain sense of doubt when you're testing out songs... I used to be afraid of what people would think, but now there's a part of me that enjoys the madness of the mistakes.”
Acoustic tracks as minimum viable products
To illustrate this, one of the key concepts of the Lean Start-Up movement. A Minimum Viable Product has just those features that allow the product to be used, and no more. The product is often the bare bones and is then released for testing. How similar is this to the acoustic song an artist often plays at the end of their gig? And in the creative industries, this is also seen as a way to build excitement about the product (the song).
Even Shakespeare knew the principal of testing a play on an audiences as it is developed was crucial. (From Hamlet: “Oh, thou hast a damnable iteration”).
We know already that the creative and cultural sectors help other sectors do better - and this is why governments are so keen to encourage them. And this is an example of where the world should be looking to the creative industries for process, not just content.
M+MD Creative Commons on Flickr